The OnePlus One has been one of the most hyped smartphones of 2014. There's really not much else to be said, as OnePlus' marketing has been quite noticeable amongst Android enthusiasts. The OnePlus One seems to come from nowhere, although there is a noticeable resemblance to the Oppo Find 7A which is produced in the same factory. The OnePlus One is said to be a flagship killer, as its high-end specs come with a mid-range price. The 16GB version starts at 299 USD and the 64GB version starts at 349 USD. With a 5.5" 1080p display, Snapdragon 801 SoC, and plenty of other bits and pieces to go around, the specs are certainly enough to make it into a flagship phone. Of course, the real question is whether it really is. After all, while specs provide the foundation, what makes a phone bad, good, or great has to do with the entire phone, not just the spec sheet. At any rate, I've attached this spec sheet below to give an idea of what to expect from the phone.

  Oppo Find 7a OnePlus One
SoC MSM8974ABv3 2.3 GHz
Snapdragon 801
MSM8974ACv3 2.45 GHz Snapdragon 801
Display 5.5” 1080p IPS LCD (JDI) 5.5” 1080p IPS LCD (JDI)
Network 2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Qualcomm MDM9x25 UE Category 4 LTE) 2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Qualcomm MDM9x25 UE Category 4 LTE)
Dimensions 152.6 x 75 x 9.2 mm, 170 grams 152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm, 162 grams
Camera 13MP (4128 x 3096) Rear Facing, 1/3.06" CMOS size (Sony IMX214), F/2.0, 5MP FFC w/ F/2.0 aperture 13MP (4128 x 3096) Rear Facing, 1/3.06" CMOS size (Sony IMX214), F/2.0, 5MP FFC w/ F/2.0 aperture
Battery 2800 mAh (10.64 Whr) 3100 mAh (11.78 Whr)
OS Android 4.3 with ColorOS Android 4.4.4 with CyanogenMod 11S
Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, DLNA, NFC 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, DLNA, NFC
SIM Size MicroSIM MicroSIM

Needless to say, the OnePlus One is a close cousin of the Find 7a, and its specs are top notch. There's a great foundation, so we'll move on with some initial hardware impressions.

Of course, the first part to look at is industrial and material design, along with any other immediate observations about the phone. From the front, the phone is almost a pure expanse of black glass. There are outlines for the capacitive keys, but these are quite faint most of the time. The contrast of the silver plastic ring only emphasizes this, and the lack of logos helps to make the design stand out by virtue of its minimalism. Picking it up, the feel of the sandstone black finish is incredibly unique and unlike anything I've ever felt. The finish has been described as soft sandpaper, and that's a description I'd agree with. It makes the phone feel much grippier than one might expect. The back cover is also strong, with no real give and no flex. Other than a few logos, the only significant design elements on the back are the camera, dual LED flash, and a hole for the microphone. The front of the phone has surprisingly great attention to detail as well. The silver plastic piece on the front of the phone makes the finger smoothly roll off of the display when swiping around, and the imperceptible feel of the earpiece helps to contribute to the sense that this is a single, well-built phone.

On the sides, the minimalistic theme continues. There's only a power button on the right side, a headphone jack and microphone port on the top, and a volume rocker on the left side. The SIM tray is also on the left side, and on the bottom of the phone we see two speakers, a USB port, and a microphone hole. In general, the feel of the power and volume buttons are great, with no slack and a clean, if subdued click upon activation.

Needless to say, OnePlus has done a fantastic job. However, there are a few issues to talk about. First, the size is definitely too much to handle. If the LG G3 was at the very edge between a phone and phablet, the OnePlus One firmly steps into phablet territory. At some point a line in the sand has to be drawn, and it only makes sense to do so here. The angular corners of the OnePlus One combined with its larger footprint makes for a phone that is almost impossible to comfortably use with one hand. I can't help but feel that this would've been a far more impressive phone if shrunk to a 5" display size, as in my experience it takes two hands to comfortably use this phone. The other issue is much more subtle though. For some reason or another, the glass lens covering the display of the phone feels as if it has noticeably higher friction than other phones I've used. It almost feels as if the oleophobic treatment of the glass is either missing or thinner than most. Of course, overall the phone is great from a basic design perspective. The size seems to be a matter of OnePlus' start-up position and the need to share parts with the Find 7a, although the feel of the glass is unlikely to be an issue for most.

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  • martyh1 - Thursday, January 15, 2015 - link

    I agree. But that's for me. Other users have different needs. For me, 64GB is way more than enough. And my Note 3 is not benefiting me by having an SD card slot when I have to take off the cover to get to it. For me, an SD card slot is most useful if you can insert/remove it extremely easily.
  • tipoo - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    Yeah, that's my primary concern. Though the 32GB is reasonably priced, especially compared to other high end phones.
  • tipoo - Friday, November 21, 2014 - link

    Actually 64 for just 50 more, not 32... quite reasonable. That would be good enough for me.
  • dawheat - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    Surprised there's no mention of touch issues. My OPO is decidedly my backup phone now, even on the newest firmware, b/c the touch response still isn't as good as other brand name phones. It's gotten much better but you still get missed swipes, zooming when you didn't mean to, etc. To me, it's a big negative to an otherwise excellent phone.
  • ratbert1 - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    I was trying this phone out while I had my N5 on L preview. I have been trying to decide whether to keep my N5 or this. I love the display and the software works for me except for transition stuttering at times. I agree there are way to many customization options for me to become familiar with as far as themes. I do enjoy the battery life. Even in remote locations where my other two phones will be dead by late afternoon, this still has 30% left. In the end I can't get over the size. I keep my phone in my front pocket and this is too big. My hands are not big, so it is a two handed affair all of the time.
    Since getting and enjoying Lollipop on my N5, I will keep it and sell the One. I will definitely miss it though.
  • Jax Omen - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    Can we please get someone who isn't busy fellating Apple to review android phones? Seriously, so sick of this guy. I don't even have to know what the phone is to know how the review will end, every one of his android phone reviews ends with "it's not a bad phone, but there are better options in the market". EVERY. SINGLE. REVIEW. This one bafflingly adds "too much choice having decisions to make on my phone confuses me" just to further drive home the point that he's in a love affair with Apple.
  • Master_Sigma - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    The author doesn't fellate Apple in this review at all. In fact he spends a lot of time praising its hardware (except for the camera) and overall design. Its only in the software that he feels it needs work and, as a OnePlus One owner, I completely agree with him. The software really does need a lot of polish before it can punch with the flagships. However, given the price ($350 for 64GB of onboard storage is insane) its very easy to overlook the software issues. That, and OnePlus has been very good so far with keeping this phone is updated. The last 2 updates alone fixed alot of issues that earlier reviewers like Marques Brownlee were having.
  • mrex - Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - link

    Polish what? The software is excellent already (44s).
  • Phasenoise - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    I think you've got blinders on. The review was actually pretty positive and notes while not suitable for direct comparison to high-end smartphones (does not mean Apple), the price is good and the compromises may not bother you.
  • tipoo - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - link

    Did you just have that in your clipboard to post without reading the review? Apple hardly got any mention, and the review was pretty positive. Pointing out the negatives is a reviewers /job/, so I don't know why you'd knock that part...You know, unless you're fellating Oneplus.

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